Vice President Biden is the Hedge-Fox American Foreign Policy Needs
In a few weeks, Americans will vote to either re-elect President Trump, or elect Vice President Biden as the next President of the United States. The outcome of the election will not only determine the political future of President Trump and Vice President Biden, but also will determine the fate of the United States’ hegemony in the global politics. If America wants to sustain its hegemony in the global order, it will have to transition from a hedgehog like approach of President Trump to a hedge-fox approach of Vice President Biden.
Isaiah Berlin in his essay, The Hedgehog and The Fox, quotes the Greek Poet Archilochus, “the fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing”. Berlin uses Archilochus’ quote to explain the two types of approaches that individuals usually adapt; they either use one piece of information to tackle all the obstacles, or they rummage for information according to the obstacle they face. Gaddis explains this point succinctly in his book, On Grand Strategy, “hedgehogs, relate everything to a single central vision. Foxes, in contrast, pursue many ends”.
While Berlin and Gaddis never talk about a third category, individuals do have the option of denying to become a hedgehog or a fox, and instead conform into a Hedge-fox. A Hedge-Fox, like a hedgehog, has a central vision however, it allows itself to protect its central vision, like a fox, by pursuing many ends. Vice President Biden, as the President of the United States, will make protecting the American hegemony the central vision of his presidency, and pursue many ends to protect this central vision.
President Trump’s Hedgehog like approach to U.S. foreign policy decision making has become abundantly clear as we approach the climax of his presidency, which he from the beginning of his presidential campaign has referred to as “America First”. President Trump’s policy of “America First” has led to the United States lose its standing as the leader of the free world, and has given other nations to fill in the vacuum of leadership, Syria and Afghanistan serve as a prime example. President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan bears resemblance to his decision to withdraw troops from Syria. The decision to withdraw troops from Syria led to the United States’ leadership role in the global order taking an adverse hit, as this allowed for Turkey to assert its primacy in the Middle East region. The decision to withdraw from Afghanistan is likely to further reduce the United States’ level as the hegemon of the free world, with Russia seeking to fill in the leadership void in Afghanistan.
President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops is not only fading United States’ territorial primacy, but also weakening the strength of America’s relations with its allies. Prime Minister Imran Khan sees President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan as “hasty”. He placed emphasis in op-ed he wrote for the Washington Post that, “not seeing through the Afghanistan peace process or abandoning it for any reason would be a great travesty.” Not only will withdrawing American troops be a great travesty for the Afghan peace process, but it will evoke the memory of President Trump’s abandoning of the Kurds.
Prime Minister Khan is not the only world leader who has displayed his concerns about United States’ commitments to its allies under the Trump presidency. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his desire to reduce Europe’s military dependence on the United States. President Macron said that, “We, some countries more than others, gave up on our strategic independence by depending too much on American weapons systems.” The rising concerns about United States’ commitment to its allies clearly depicts the Trump presidency’s reluctance to sustain America’s leadership in global politics.
On the other hand, Vice President Biden has made a case for America usurping the role of world leadership again in his Foreign Affairs article. Thereby, making it vividly clear that, the central vision of a Biden Presidency will be to elevate the United States to the leadership position in global politics. Vice President Biden, in his article, highlights how the United States under President Trump’s presidency has seen a weakening of its relations with allies, and vows that if he is elected president, “I will take immediate steps to renew U.S. democracy and alliances, protect the United States’ economic future, and once more have America lead the world.” This reveals that a Biden presidency is will, just like a hedgehog, have a central vision; having America lead the world. However, President Biden, as he explains in his Foreign Affairs article, will pursue many ends, just like a fox, to ensure that America leads the world.
Biden acknowledges that if America is to lead the world again, it needs to fix the domestic shortcomings of the country. Biden writes, “First and foremost, we must repair and reinvigorate our own democracy, even as we strengthen the coalition of democracies that stand with us around the world.” As he promises to fix domestic problems to ensure that America is capable of leading the world again, he also focuses on the need to strengthen ties with American allies as well. Biden writes that the President of the United States should, “salvage our reputation, rebuild confidence in our leadership, and mobilize our country and our allies to rapidly meet new challenges”. While Biden says that he seeks to bring a halt to endless wars, he also pledges that, the United States will not refrain from using force when needed. Biden pens, “I will never hesitate to protect the American people, including, when necessary, by using force.” The plethora of avenues that Vice President Biden attends to take as the President to sustain America’s leadership role illustrates his hedge-fox like strategy for U.S. foreign policy.
If the United States wants to sustain its hegemony in world politics, it will have to transition from President Trump’s Hedgehog like “America First” foreign policy to Vice President Biden’s hedge-fox like policy of sustaining American leadership on the global stage. American voters will have the opportunity to determine the fate of American hegemony on November, 3rd.
The author is a graduate student of U.S. Foreign policy at The George Washington University.